We live in a fast-paced world. Everyone expects immediate satisfaction, from the youngest toddlers to their parents and even older grandparents. Businesses have spoiled us with speedy shipping and quick, online ordering that happens at the touch of a button. All of the technology that we experience each day usually means that we become further removed from nature, including gardening.
Gardening is an excellent way for people of all ages to experience nature, grow food and get some outdoor time away from the screens and digital games. It’s a perfect activity for all age groups and is something that you can enjoy with your family.
As someone that grew up gardening with my parents, I can tell you personally that it’s a wonderful hobby that you’ll enjoy. I grow a large vegetable garden with my kids now and I’m able to further appreciate the hobby that we all share together. There’s truly something for everyone when it comes to gardening, no matter their age!
Gardening with Young Kids
It’s no surprise that young kids love to get dirty. The messier the activity, the better it seems for small kids. Bringing young children into the garden is a perfect way to teach them about all sorts of topics like insects, dirt, plants and how our food is grown. Both of my kids spent plenty of time in the stroller, jumper or playpen while I started our gardens. We made sure they had plenty of shade and sunscreen. As soon as they could walk and talk, they were asking to work in the garden!
Children that are a little older will enjoy looking at the different insects, fruits, vegetables and flowers. It’s a perfect time to throw in a mini biology lesson for them. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but something simple explaining ‘good bugs’ and ‘bad bugs’ will go a long way in helping them understand how nature works.
Letting young children help you plant is a wonderful way to get them interested in gardening (and save your back some achiness!). The more involved children are with planting and tending the garden, the more interested they will be in the entire process. Don’t hesitate to let them plant transplant or make a row of seeds. Your rows may not be perfectly straight, but it’s well worth a slightly crooked row to have help in the garden.
Try to find tasks that young kids can easily perform. For example, if you’re growing tomatoes, show him/her what a ripe one should look like. Then show them one that isn’t quite ripe so they can see the difference. Walk behind them and allow them to pluck the ripe tomatoes.
If they reach for a slightly under-ripe tomato, remind them to check for signs that it’s totally ripe and ask them if the tomato needs another day or two. If they accidentally grab a tomato that isn’t quite ripe, don’t worry. Simply stick the tomato in a sunny window for a day or two to let it finish ripening.
You can also start a new gardening project with small kids. Start a composting pile and allow them to toss vegetable scraps into it. Most compost piles on the ground will get worms in them, which is a favorite bug for kids to play with. It’s another opportunity to teach them something valuable. You can teach them that the worms help to break down the compost, which then turns into rich fertilizer for your plants and helps them grow.
Gardening with Older Kids and Teens
If you weren’t able to garden with your kids or grandkids when they were young, it’s not too late to get them interested in gardening. Just like with younger kids, if you can get them actively involved in planting or tending the garden, the more likely they are to stay interested in it. You might find that allowing them to choose what they want to plant makes a big difference in how willing they are to gardening with you.
If your son or grandson asks to plant watermelons but you’ve never had luck growing watermelons before, don’t discourage him. You might find that his thumb is exceptionally green when it comes to growing watermelons!
Make sure that you’re always encouraging when it comes to gardening with older kids and teens. They’ve grown up in a world where they’re used to instant gratification and gardening is far from that, which can be discouraging to them.
Overly impatient children are often astonished at how fast seedlings grow from seeds. Just about the time that they start to forget that they planted seeds, they will start to sprout, which pulls their interest right back in.
Kids that have grown up gardening are much more appreciative of where their food comes from and all of the work that goes into producing it. Even growing something simple, like lettuce, takes time and work. Kids that have grown vegetables before are much less likely to waste food since they are more appreciative and aware of their food.
As kids get older, you can give them more difficult tasks to complete. If you’re looking for pests or signs of diseases on your plants, ask them for help. You might be surprised that their eyes are keener than yours and can spot things faster than you. To make it even more fun, make it a challenge. See who can remove the most pests. It’s an educational and fun way to get some of the harder tasks done.
Benefits for Older Generations
Gardening is often thought of as an old-timey hobby. It’s a hobby that almost anyone can enjoy, even older generations. It doesn’t require a ton of dexterity or equipment to get started. Even if you have great-grandchildren and you’ve never grown a garden before, it’s not too late.
If you’re looking for something that you can do with your kids or grandkids that will get their eyes away from their TV, phone, tablet or other screen, then gardening is perfect.
In many families today, both parents work. This leaves little time for family hobbies, like gardening. If your grandkids’ parents don’t garden, be the one to expose them to this fulfilling hobby. It’ll be something that they will treasure and can use for the rest of their lives. Gardening will get them outside and busy, something many kids today need.
If you enlist your kids or grandkids to help in the garden, you’ll be much more productive. The back-breaking tasks of sowing seeds, pulling weeds and bending over to pluck that hidden zucchini are tasks that your kids and grandkids will love. Having their help will save you precious time and backaches.
Gardening: An Activity for All Ages
There’s always something to do in the garden. Pulling weeds, harvesting and planting are activities that people of any age can enjoy.
You might find that you enjoy gardening even more if you’re enjoying it with your family. Gardening can become a family project that everyone can enjoy.
It’s a great way for everyone to get outdoors, get some sunshine and grow both beautiful and nutritious plants.
Help to create a love for gardening in your family by gardening with them today.
Today’s post about gardening across generations comes from Shelby DeVore, founder of Farminence [ https://farminence.com]. Shelby is a former agriculture teacher and a multi-generational home gardener. She currently lives on a small farm with her husband and two children where they raise way too many animals and grow a large vegetable garden each year.